Online offenders sentenced over child exploitation

TWO women were each sentenced to over four years in prison after pleading guilty to accessing child sexual exploitation materials under plea bargaining agreements. They are still facing other charges for qualified trafficking in persons in the Regional Trial Court in Talisay City, Cebu.

In a decision rendered on Friday, February 21, Cebu City Regional Trial Court Branch 11 Judge Ramon Daomilas, Jr. handed down sentences to the two accused after they pled guilty to charges under Republic Act 9775 or the Anti-Child Pornography Act.

Both suspects remain in custody as they are on trial for other charges, including for trafficking children for the purpose of online sexual exploitation. They will be facing life sentences if they will be convicted after a full trial.

Both cases stemmed from successful investigations and operations of the Philippine National Police Regional Anti-Cybercrime Unit, Region 7 (RACU-7).

On October 27, 2017, the 23-year-old offender was arrested in Barangay Dumlog, Talisay City, by RACU-7. During the operation, two girls, one 17 year old and an adult were rescued. The young girls were sisters of the accused.

On June 15, 2018, the 33-year-older offender was arrested in Barangay Cansojong, also in Talisay City. During that operation, eight minors – ranging in age from three to 17 years old were rescued and turned over to DSWD for assessment and rehabilitation as well.

“Whenever the justice system holds accountable people who sexually abuse and exploit children, it actually prevents the abuse of other children by restraining those offenders and deterring other criminals. When the laws are enforced, the abuse of vulnerable children is dramatically reduced as impunity is replaced with accountability,” said International Justice Mission Cebu Field Office Director John Tanagho.

Meanwhile, on March 16 and 17, 2020, the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) and International Justice Mission (IJM) will hold a conference in Manila called Global Resolve Against Online Sexual Exploitation of Children. This conference aims to strengthen the global community’s response to online sexual exploitation of children (OSEC), the most urgent form of child sexual exploitation. It will assemble key stakeholders from around the world to learn about the OSEC and the Philippine government’s response to the crime.

The conference also presents participants the opportunity to network with others from across a wide range of sectors (government, law enforcement, NGOs, corporations, etc.) who are also engaged in fighting OSEC.

IJM reported that among its supported cases, more than 80 persons have been convicted in the Philippines for OSEC since 2011. IJM has supported Philippine law enforcement agencies in operations that led to the arrest of more than 200 OSEC perpetrators and the rescue of almost 600 victims and children-at-risk across the country.

The group encourage the public to report a suspected case of OSEC by texting ENDOSEC (space) (incident details) to 7444-64 for Smart network subscribers; or directly connect with WCPC at (032) 410-8483 for Visayas, and 0917-180-6037 or 0928-604-6425 for Mindanao. (PR)